Differences Between Custom Oral Appliances and Snoring Mouthguards

Both custom oral appliances and snoring mouth guards are effective solutions to stop snoring, but is there really a noticeable difference between these two types of devices?

Both custom oral appliances and snoring mouthguards treat snoring by extending the lower jaw slightly forward to open the airway. As the jaw moves forward, the airway expands to prevent vibrations of the tissues in the throat. This results in less turbulence and less snoring.

Custom Oral Appliances

Custom oral appliances are often prescribed by dentists and sleep physicians for the treatment of sleep apnea. In the United States, custom oral appliances are an alternative to CPAP therapy. However, in many parts of the world, especially in Scandinavian countries, oral appliances are the first line of treatment.

A custom oral appliance is first prepared by taking an impression of the teeth using a soft material or a digital scanner. The mold or digital file is then sent to a dental lab to manufacture the appliance. The device is mailed to the dentist or physician, who then inspects the device and gives it to the patient.

Some of these adjustable devices require a tool to change the adjustment setting. By changing the adjustment, the mandibular part of the mouthpiece can move forward or backward. This allows the user to select a setting based on efficacy and comfort. Generally, the more forward the lower jaw is, the less comfortable, but more effective it is.

Due to the time and resources required to manufacture a personalized device, custom oral appliances are expensive.

Snoring Mouthguards

Snoring mouthguards are commonly recognized in the medical community as ‘prefabricated oral appliances’ and often resemble a sports mouthguard. Over the past few years, several snoring mouthguards have introduced some form of adjustability which is found in more expensive custom oral appliances.

The two most distinctive features of snoring mouthguards are the materials that make up the device and how the process for which the custom impression is made. Most of these devices are made of a soft copolymer material which allows the user to take a custom impression of his or her teeth in the device. This design prevents teeth movement during sleep.

The mold is personalized to the user’s mouth and is designed specifically for that user. In many instances, users repeat the boil and bite process again if the impression is not correct.

Cheaper snoring mouthguards are normally made of cheaper industrialized plastic, which contains BPA and latex materials. Higher end snoring mouthpieces are made of medical grade resin and latex-free materials to prevent allergic reactions and other adverse events.

Although some snoring mouth guards also have an FDA indication for treatment of mild obstructive sleep apnea, most of these devices are required by law to have a physician’s prescription.

It is important to note that bruxism (grinding and clenching of the teeth) may wear down the device faster and decrease the lifespan of the device.

Custom Oral Appliances

Custom Oral Appliances

  • Prepared by a dentist or sleep physician
  • A dental lab creates a custom impression of your teeth
  • Constructed from clear, arcylic aligners that resemble Invisalign®
  • Expected to last 24 months, depending on the device and severity of bruxism
  • Expensive: Costs $500-$5,000

Snoring Mouthguards

  • Prepared by yourself in the comfort of your own home
  • The ‘boil and bite’ process creates a custom impression of your teeth
  • Constructed from soft, copolymer material
  • Expected to last 6-15 months, depending on the device and severity of bruxism
  • Affordable: Costs $40-$200

Is a Custom Oral Appliance or a Snoring Mouthguard Best for You?

Two of the most significant differences between a custom oral appliance and a snoring mouthguard is adjustability and customization. The more adjustable and personalized, the more complex and expensive the mouthpiece will be.

One of the risks of using a simple snoring device for the treatment of sleep apnea without the consult of a physician is that the device may not adequately treat all health concerns. Consequently, the user risks being under-treated. That is, There is an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, deadly heart rhythms, and accidents from daytime sleepiness in patients with untreated obstructive sleep apnea.

Because many of these devices treat a medical condition, they require FDA oversight in the United States. There is concern that many individuals that have more severe health issues, like obstructive sleep apnea, are undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed, and have complications as a result of no clinician intervention. Speak with your physician and dentist about using these devices before you use them. Unless ordered in conjunction with physician care, you should not use a simple snoring device for the treatment of sleep apnea.

6 comments on “Differences Between Oral Appliances & Snoring Mouthpieces”

  1. Daryl Maloney says:

    I have had the mouth guard called Apnea RX but I am unable to find them anymore. Do you sell these mothguards in Australia? Is there a seller of your mouth guards in Australia?

    1. Hi Daryl, ApneaRx is our sister product and is not available at retail in Australia. We recommend that you visit ApneaRx.com and use international shipping.

  2. Is this mouthpiece appreciate for a small mouth?

    1. Hi Marie, SnoreRx comes in one standard size that is able to fit the overwhelming majority of users who are able to use the product successfully and comfortably. We do offer the 30-day guarantee that allows you to return the device, even used, if you are not completely satisfied with it. This would offer you a trial of sorts with the device to see if it could work for you.

    2. Eric Whitley says:

      I’ve been using SnoreRx for about 7 months. For the first few months it was excellent, but at about the 5 month mark I started to get severe irritation and soreness on the inside of the mouth. Roughly a half inch around the inside of the lips and the tip of my tongue…everywhere the device is touching. Most spicy foods like salsa are now off limits as they burn that area of my mouth.

      Any recommendations on how to minimize this? I’m thinking about buying a replacement device but if I can’t avoid this problem then I may have to look into another brand.

      Thank you

      1. Hi Eric, sorry to hear about the irritation issue. We suspect this is a maintenance issue.

        Unfortunately only using water may not be enough to adequately clean your SnoreRx. Over an extended period of time, bacteria can grow and cause the irritation and soreness that you have described.

        The good news is that this is fixable. We wrote an article to provide some helpful tips to keep your mouthpiece clean and it may even extend the lifespan of your device. You may find it useful!

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